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Date: 09/09/19 20:14
A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

In a perfect world, railroad passing sidings should be located out in the boonies, and featuring no highway-at-grade crossings. Having them in urbanized areas and featuring multiple grade crossings leads to situations such as this.


https://www.kalb.com/content/news/Bunkie-family-sues-Union-Pacific-after-relative-dies-in-ambulance-unable-to-cross-train-tracks-559503541.html



Date: 09/09/19 20:59
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: YSLR131

Problem is, it's far cheaper to build streets onto railroad property and across live tracks as opposed to digging down beneath the tracks. Many towns were built around the railroad, or the railroad plowed right through town. Get on Google Maps and look at downtown Sacramento, CA for example. The Western Pacific Railroad built right through the heart of the city, and as a result, there are a lot of at grade crossings. It would cost a fortune and a half to take each individual crossing out and replace it with either a tunnel or overpass. A tunnel would require the streets on either side of the tracks to be graded below the tracks and have several under-crossings about 15-20' below grade. Sacramento doesn't have the kind of money, likely billions of dollars. The current railroad, in this case, Union Pacific, refuses to pay out for anything in California on its own property. While there aren't many trains between the segment south of R Street (which is where the Sacramento Regional Transit has their Blue Line) and Haggin Junction (where the Western Pacific crossed under the Southern Pacific, now it's all UPRR, so who cares?), a sobering fact which could cripple Sacramento, unfortunately, is the fact that that segment is single track, and a train breaking down in this spot would cause a lot of traffic to back up on both sides of the tracks in both directions for a good two- three miles of railroad. Money isn't everything. Hell, if the people of Sacramento had a will, I'm sure the citizens (or maybe some contractors) could take it upon themselves to do the work and bill the railroad later. But that's really doubtful.

Stephen Hjellum
Woodland, CA
Virtual CRCP Railway.



Date: 09/09/19 22:08
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: RRBaron

YSLR131 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Problem is, it's far cheaper to build streets onto
> railroad property and across live tracks as
> opposed to digging down beneath the tracks. 

The Europeans seem to do it, the Japanese as well. Where there is a will there is a way...to raise the taxes. 



Date: 09/09/19 22:22
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the incident that happened in Louisiana occurred where a train was sitting in a siding waiting for an opposing train and had all the street crossings blocked.  Ideally, passing sidings for scenarios such as this are best located in non-urbanized areas and should be free of grade crossings.  Railroads in later years have been installing new passing sidings that meet that criteria.  

As for what was described about the former ex-WP in Sacramento, things pretty much remain fluid as long as the trains keep moving.  The ex-WP route through town probably doesn't have as much traffic since the UP absorption, at least south of where it crosses under the SP Overland Route at Haggin.   



Date: 09/10/19 02:47
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: OTG

Something from the article everyone seems to miss;

"'Common sense tells you that when someone is in an ambulance, they have an emergency,' Gaspard said. 'Move the train; worry about the rule violation later. We're talking about a man's life.'"

From those six words it sound like a rule violation had occured, the train was stopped for the investigation, and UP either refused to allow the crew to move the train, or was at a point in the investigation where they were unable to move it.  There's more going on that just a meet.

Having said that, there's a seventh crossing a mile and a half south of town which I doubt was also blocked.  Using Google Maps, from the middle of town a drive down one side, across the tracks, and up the other side is just under five miles and takes about 9 minutes.  Unless the train was two miles long and blocking that seventh crossing, it seems to me that ordering a helicopter was a far less efficient way of circumventing the problem.  And why not, if the emergency is dire enough, just have a second ambulance meet you on the other side of the same crossing and pass the guy over the knuckle on a stretcher?  They obviously were in contact with the railroad so they could guarantee it was (relatively) safe to do.

This isn't a cut-and-dry case.  UP might actually have a decent defense for themselves here, although the court of public opinion doesn't always listen to facts.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/19 02:48 by OTG.



Date: 09/10/19 03:37
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: railscenes

That was very sad that this man could not have been saved. Maybe he could have been saved had the conductor cut the crossing? With 40 years of train service I learned it was essential to either arrange a place to meet other trains free of crossings or as a last resort cut road crossings. As stated in a imperfect world sometimes blocking a crossing for a short period was inevitable, but rare. In order to avoid these cases it depended on good communication with the DS. But with some of these modern railroad operations with a DS covering multiple districts communication is near impossible. I've been retired 12 years now, but began to see a slow decline in the quality of dispatching due to expanding the work load of a centralized dispatching center where the DS did not have a clue about the territory that were dispatching, long before I retired from the Illinois Division of the BNSF.
Then on top of that train crew members may contribute to the problem because they have given up trying to work with an overloaded DS or even get accurate information as to how long they are going to be held for a meet. Also, in some cases mergers created a shift in employees to work districts or whole divisions they had never worked before while the old heads that learned the division like their own back yard retired. 
The other thing that may never happen in a state like Louisiana is having state or local laws that fine the railroad companies for blocking crossings. States like Illinois have strict laws and allow local towns to issue tickets and fines when a road crossing is blocked by a standing train for 10 minutes. 

 One conductor I worked with as a young brakeman on the Santa Fe Railway when he told me to walk up the train and cut the road crossing put it in a question form: How would you feel if you were in an ambulance / house burning down / or other emergency and there was a train stopped on the road crossing that was the only route? The answer is simple, cut at least one crossing. I never had a problem cutting a crossing. Sometimes it got a much quicker communication if the DS if he could not provide an answer. I would tell the DS I would go ahead and start cutting crossings and setting enough hand brakes, until we knew for sure we were going to move again. One time the DS changed his mind and kept us rolling when I told him if he stopped us in town it would take a while to get the train back together after meeting another train. He may not have realized that his computer screen does not give him the true over all picture.
So the best way to deal with the problem on a case by case basis is good communication with the DS and an over all mentality of safety and common sense courtesy to the rest of the world.
Steve Rippeteau
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/19 03:38 by railscenes.



Date: 09/10/19 05:36
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: BAB

Here we go again, train tracks there first, city builds streets over them where ever they can, train has to use siding, crossing blocked. Now its the trains fault, those who think its easy to move a train just kick the brakes off and move it right now. Lots of other things come into play then, cut it at the crossing, how far does the person who is doing have to walk?  What do they do stand and wait after its cut and for how long? once together the train sits until that crew member is recalled.  No its up to the city to provide directions to all emergency equipment in the case its blocked just like was pointed out there was another way around it which would not have been blocked. 



Date: 09/10/19 05:36
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: robj

Timeline will be important but Seems like there was a significant time delay here that they could get the helicopter.  


An element in these blocked crossings is the train goes into the siding and waits how long???? for the opposing train.  Knowing the situation of blocked crossings they could hold the train outside of town, taking the siding as the opposing train gets close.  As an observer it makes lttle sense to me to see a train running at full track speed only to get into a siding and wait for a long time.   Maybe good for the crew to take a break but otherwise???  I do observe some lines where a train knowing it is going into a siding reduce speed gettng to the siding.


Bob Jordan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/19 05:37 by robj.



Date: 09/10/19 06:08
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: CajonRat

Sp routinely broke up trains blocking crossings in Pomona CA, it ain't rocket science.



Date: 09/10/19 06:23
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: zchcsse

OTG Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Something from the article everyone seems to
> miss;
>
> "'Common sense tells you that when someone is in
> an ambulance, they have an emergency,' Gaspard
> said. 'Move the train; worry about the rule
> violation later. We're talking about a man's
> life.'"
>
It's tough to interpret that.  Your interpretation could be accurate, but there is also the possibility that the attorney doesn't really understand the situation.   Perhaps the 'rule violation' he is referring to is the train going past a red signal to clear the crossing.  If that signal is the end of a passing siding, doing so could create an even worse safety issue than what did actually transpire.



Date: 09/10/19 06:49
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: cjvrr

Lots more information need to place blame on the railroad.  The person's medical condition is first and foremost and the ability to prove the delay caused this gentleman to expire.

Unfortunately many people want to place blame on others for their misfortune.   Suing the railroad isn't going to bring this gentleman back to life.



Date: 09/10/19 07:54
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: tomstp

I will bet anyone UP will pay for this.    Can you imagine a plaintiff telling a jury all they had to do was give us room to cross and we could have saved him?

Railroads lose crossing cases with gates and lights working and this won't be any different.  Big Bad Railroad. Happens all the time.



Date: 09/10/19 09:02
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: ts1457

Looks like the ambulance driver could have found a route south of town. The town planners are a bit amiss in not having a short road/street which would have linked to a highway with an overpass northwest of Bunkie.

UP does not look good, but I think some blame can be passed around.

I wonder which hospital the patient was being transported to?
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/19 09:07 by ts1457.



Date: 09/10/19 10:49
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: ALCO630

BAB Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Here we go again, train tracks there first, city
> builds streets over them where ever they can,
> train has to use siding, crossing blocked. Now its
> the trains fault, those who think its easy to move
> a train just kick the brakes off and move it right
> now. Lots of other things come into play then, cut
> it at the crossing, how far does the person who is
> doing have to walk?  What do they do stand and
> wait after its cut and for how long? once together
> the train sits until that crew member is
> recalled.  No its up to the city to provide
> directions to all emergency equipment in the case
> its blocked just like was pointed out there was
> another way around it which would not have been
> blocked. 

What a boneheaded statement.

Posted from Android

Doug Wetherhold
Macungie, PA



Date: 09/10/19 13:09
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: Westbound

After 25+ years working for the SP, then UP in the San Francisco bay area, never heard of anything quite like this. 

Break the rule... ? Not so fast! The FRA has the power to personally fine any railroad employee for violating a rule and they act as both judge and jury. We don’t even know who is saying this or what rule he or she is talking about. 
We need to have more information to know what could have been done, alternatives, etc. 



Date: 09/10/19 13:30
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: Lackawanna484

Would the conductor break the train on their own? Would the company order the conductor to cut the train if an investigation was underway? I doubt either would happen.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/10/19 14:09
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: fr8kar

Holding off crossings works well if you're only meeting one train, or at least with the first train. Even without communication from the DS it's easy to coordinate with the opposing train. Seeing the approach signal displaying something other than clear is enough to call the opposing train on the radio to coordinate the meet.

If you're going to meet more than one is helpful to know the timeline of the passing trains to determine whether to cut the crossings or not. Knowing you're meeting more than one can also influence your train's position in the siding, for example if you can hang back in the clear away from the signal if it means you won't block a crossing ahead.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/10/19 14:30
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: TAW

OTG Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Something from the article everyone seems to
> miss;
>
> "'Common sense tells you that when someone is in
> an ambulance, they have an emergency,' Gaspard
> said. 'Move the train; worry about the rule
> violation later. We're talking about a man's
> life.'"
>
> From those six words it sound like a rule
> violation had occured, the train was stopped for
> the investigation, and UP either refused to allow
> the crew to move the train, or was at a point in
> the investigation where they were unable to move
> it.  There's more going on that just a meet.


It's poorly written. Does he mean that it would be a rule violation to move the train or that the train couldn't be moved because there had been a rule violation?

It it was the former, what was the rule? Was it the one that says don't pass the red signal that prevents you from running into another train? Was it the one that says watch the shove? Rules are just so inconsequential.

If it was the former, why did UP refuse to move the train? Who did they talk to at Union Pacific? Did some (cop, fire, town greenskeeper) go to the head end and ask the crew if there was something to do? If you need to watch the shove, I'll drive you to the rear end and back up to the engine. Did whomever they talked to at UP talk to the train dispatcher? Did the train dispatcher refuse to do anything? Could the train dispatcher have done something (with proper workload, proper training and education) such as stop the approaching train and give the guy standing some authority to pass the signal? For that matter, did the guy standing know how long they would be there? With proper workload and training, it wouldn't be hard to tell the guy waiting the standoff Arrange to show up at Bunkie at 1530 or Be in the clear at Bunkie at 1530 or You'll be at Bunkie for one; he'll be there at 1530. How many additional train dispatchers could they have hired for the cost of this potential settlement? Other cases that could have been fixed by dispatcher workload? Is workload the only deficiency? Do train dispatchers have the authority and knowledge to actually manage their territory or do they, as a BN Chief told me, at about the time when I had enough, answer the phone and line signals?

So many questions, so little information.

TAW



Date: 09/10/19 14:42
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: Lackawanna484

The notice of claim, and The suit, will have more info.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/11/19 11:44
Re: A Public Relations Nightmare for UP
Author: ExSPCondr

"Worry about the rule violation later..."?  Probably not not a discipline case at all, but an Hours of Service Expiration!

I'm certainly not making any excuses for my former employer, but there are a lot of differences between 'Won't', and 'Can't' move the train.
1. Apparently the train has filled up the siding, and there is no more room to pull ahead to cut a crossing, IF the crew has time to work under the HOS.
2. Apparently the UP had no place further down the line for this train until the train it was waiting for passed.  Do we know how long it took to finally clear the crossings?
3. Is there room out of town to wait until the other train gets close?
4. Its going to take at least 12 car lengths to cut a crossing and get the gates up. Was there that much more room in the siding?
5. The comment about the former SP crews keeping crossings clear in Pomona needs a little further explanation.  There were two sidings in SP Pomona, East and West.  West was far longer than East, and the West siding had no crossings, AND no crossings for a long way West of the West end.  Hamilton Avenue, (the break between East and West) had a double crossover, and since the track was straight to Montclair, it was easy to stop an Eastbound back in the West siding and watch and wait until the Westbound showed up.  We also had a lot of cooperation from the dispatchers in planning meets, because they didn't want cut/blocked crossings either...
During the UP's self-inflicted meltdown, we were able to keep off of crossings by using our head.  At that time, there were dead trains in ten of the twelve sidings between LA and West Colton, East and West Pomona being the only sidings open.  When we left either end, we knew we were going to Pomona, and we talked to the dispatcher about how many we were going to meet there, before we pulled in.

In response to  a post about UP paying a hiring bonus to conductors, I made the comment that the UP had gotten just what they wanted, and they couldn't stand it.  They had cut off all of the arbitrary allowances, and had gotten to a point that nobody wanted to hire out to work nights, weekends, and holidays, and be away from home for what they wanted to pay.  Now they have greatly increased the dispatchers districts, added PSR without getting ready for it first, and look what happens! 
G



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